Champlain Towers South resident survives climbing rubble in the dark with her dog

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SURFSIDE, Florida – Sharon Schechter said her life changed in seconds. She is one of 127 residents of Champlain Towers South that Miami-Dade County authorities identified after part of the building collapsed early Thursday morning in the oceanfront town of Surfside.

Schechter, 60, resided at 8777 Collins Ave. Shortly before 2 am, she was sleeping with her dog in apartment 1109. A “somewhat unusual” noise woke her suddenly. She then had the impression that the whole building was shaking. She looked out the window.

“I realized, ‘Oh my God! Where is the building? There is no building! ‘

Fearing that what was left of the South Champlain Towers would collapse, she grabbed her dog and rushed out of her apartment. She tried to go down the only available stairwell, but there was rubble.

“We were shouting, ‘Help! Come and get us! We are here! Come get us! “

She was knocking on the door, hoping someone could hear her. Schechter realized she was alone. She decided to climb with her dog through the rubble and onto the cars. The goal was to get out of the 12-story building as fast as she could.

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“It was pitch dark… We find our way until we get to some light,” Schechter said.

Firefighters search for a pile of rubble left by the collapse of the 12-story condominium in Sunrise, Florida. (photo AP)

She got out with her dog. She left behind everything she owned. His passport. Work documents. She operates a health insurance business. It will be hard to get over it, but she’s doing it with her life.

“I was one of two who I think survived on my floor,” Schechter said.

Not knowing if all her neighbors made it haunts her. She said she called one of the neighbors who lived on her floor but he didn’t pick up.

A bed hangs from a partially collapsed building on Thursday, June 24, 2021, in Surfside, Florida. A wing of a 12-story oceanfront building collapsed with a roar in a city outside of Miami early Thursday, trapping residents in rubble and twisted metal. (AP Photo / Wilfredo Lee) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

All she could think of was the many people who hadn’t made it, she said. Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said four people had died and 159 were missing on Friday evening.

“I feel like I cry every minute for someone in this building,” Schechter said, later adding: “I hope there’s a reason I survived – a bigger picture . “

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The city welcomed those awaiting information on loved ones missing after the partial collapse of Champlain Towers South at the Community Center at 9301 Collins Ave. On Friday, they transferred the loved ones to the Grand Beach Hotel Surfside at 9449 Collins Ave. Levine Cava these relatives had two daily briefings.

For more information or to report the status of a loved one missing, call 305-614-1819 or 305-993-1071.

Maria Fernanda Martinez, left, and Mariana Corderiro, right, from Boca Raton, Fla., Stand outside a 12-story oceanfront condominium that partially collapsed on Friday, the 25th June 2021, in the Surfside district of Miami. (AP Photo / Lynne Sladky) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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